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Chocolate chip cookies from Cook's Illustrated

I love chocolate chip cookies, but making them can be a boring task. The steps – softening the butter, measuring the sugar and flours – are incredibly standard. Most of the time they feel like a chore.

That’s why I like this chocolate chip cookie recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. Instead of softening the butter, you melt it in a saucepan or Dutch oven on the stove, then stir it constantly until brown flakes slowly form and the butter begins to smell nutty and fragrant.

Continue Reading “Chocolate chip cookies with brown butter”

Homemade vanilla ice cream

There is a secret to making ice cream, and it took me a very long time to learn what it is. It’s going to sound obvious when I say it, but here it is: You have to use heavy cream.

If you’re resistant to using heavy cream, I understand why. It packs a whopping five grams of fat per tablespoon, and you’ll probably be using a cup or two in your ice cream.

But you’re results won’t be the same if you try to substitute half-and-half or milk or Greek yogurt or any other lighter, more figure-friendly dairy or dairy substitute you can think of.

I have tried to make many less-fattening ice creams in my Cuisinart, using soy milk, 1% milk, and half-and-half. They are always a disappointment because of their texture.

Continue Reading “The secret to perfect vanilla ice cream”

Individuality

Photo courtesy Flickr user jonmatthew photography

The Blogathon’s second theme day asks us to reflect on what we’ve learned as bloggers. If we were to start blogging today, what would we do differently?

There is one thing above all others that I would change: I would pull a Lindsey Buckingham and go my own way.

There is a lot of blogging advice out there. Some of it is contradictory, like the number of times you should post a week. Some successful bloggers recommend posting three times a week, while other just as successful bloggers say to post once a week. 

Some of the advice is standard. Stick to your topic. Post on the same days of the week every week. Organize your thoughts into easily readable lists.

Some of it is organizational. Write and schedule your posts ahead of time. Keep an editorial calendar. Regularly host guest bloggers or submit your own guest blogging posts to other sites.

It’s easy to get caught up in all the advice, especially when most, if not all of it, is very good advice. But here’s the question: What advice works best for you and your goals, and what advice can you ignore?  

Continue Reading “If I started blogging today…(Blogathon Theme Day #2)

Raspberry and lemon coffee cake with lemon crumb topping

When Kenny and I were dating and I was spending time in his Queens apartment for the first time, I would often look inside his refrigerator and freezer for a snack. Many times this ended in disappointment.

At first, it seemed that he had an adequate amount of junk food. In his freezer were a couple of pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in flavors like Chubby Hubby and Phish food; in his refrigerator were cans of Sprite and Coke. This is a surprise I always hope to find when staying over at other people’s homes.

I suppose this goes back to childhood, when my mom, who has a sweet tooth, would always keep sugary foods around. At the very least – and because my mom is lactose-intolerant – we had tofu ice cream in mint ripple or chocolate, the best soy ice cream I’ve ever tasted to this day.

Now if I’m not staying in my own home or my childhood home, it comforts me to know that these same foods I grew up with are close by.

So in Kenny’s kitchen I remember opening the freezer one day, spoon already in hand, and grabbing a comforting pint of Chubby Hubby (which, in an interesting aside, has now been renamed Hubby Hubby in support of marriage equality). I expected the container to be sturdy, thanks to the frozen ice cream inside. But my fingertips pushed through the cardboard. There wasn’t much ice cream left.

No matter, I thought. I only wanted to taste a little bit anyway.

Continue Reading “Raspberry and lemon coffee cake with lemon crumb coating”

Summer berries

It’s Haiku Monday, a WordCount Blogathon tradition. In the past, I’ve written about chocolate and kitchen mishaps. This year I was inspired by summer berries.

Juicy, tangy, bright
In coffee cakes, scones, crisps, jams
Sweet summer berries.

If you’re so moved, please share your own haiku below. I’d love to read them.

Children's books as wall art

Have you ever thought of displaying children’s books as wall art?

With their bright colors and whimsical drawings, children’s books make a fun (and I hope engaging) decoration in a child’s room when they are displayed outward on shelves. So, on a small wall between two windows, white shelves filled with books have become a focal point in our baby’s room. We like the idea so much, we may hang shelves in our living room to show off the covers of our adult books.

(A big thanks to Kenny and my mom for hanging the shelves. They were using power tools and, because I am not at all handy, I also wasn’t at all helpful with this project.)

Right now we’re displaying the few children’s books that we own. But we’ll order more today. In addition to Ezra Jack Keats’ The Snowy Day – my absolute favorite book as a child – we have some children’s food books on the list, at least two of which include recipes that you can make with your kids.

Continue Reading “Children’s books as wall art; Children’s books about food”

Ocean City, Candy Kitchen lollipops

I’m down the Maryland shore for the Cruisin’ Ocean City event, a 4-day car show where the the streets are loud and packed with the low, dull roar of gunning cars.

We actually didn’t come for the car show, but the old cars are parked everywhere and many of their drivers are constantly cruising down route one.

I’m not a car person. Having to drive down busy roads is actually one of the worst chores in the world, I think. But even for me, it was hard not to be impressed with some of these old cars, especially their bright colors (construction cone orange, mint green and silver, sunny yellow) and sleek, shiny chrome exteriors.

So my photography practice continues with a few pictures of the cars, as well as one of my favorite Ocean City institutions: Candy Ktichen.

Ocean City Cruisin', May 2012

Continue Reading “Beach season begins”